My 2013 in Retrospect: Through Hell and back to travel again

In All Topics by Ryan8 Comments

Happy Freakin’ New Year!!!

I would say “Wow, 2014 is already here?!” but that may be a paradox. 

For some of us, 2013 may have been a long happy year. For others it may have been a long grueling year. Maybe it was a year that flew by without you realizing it — though I hope that wasn’t the case.

Whatever the year or the date or the event, I’ve come to the realization that time is a precious thing. Ha! Says the guy sitting in a café typing on an iPad right?

Except this blog and communication with you all has become an important aspect in my life, and also a meaningful mission to convey hardships and triumphs in the gauntlet in life.

So, I can deal with writing in a café to you on New Years Eve because it matters to me.

I wanted to write an end of the year memoir about precious time, the passing years, resolutions, and future goals. I’ll be talking to you a little about where I am now and what I’ll be attempting to do, as well as about aspirations for 2014.

2013 RETROspect

This past year began at the end. What an damn obscure statement that is. 

True, every year begins at the end of the last one. But life truly began again for me at the beginning of 2013.

2012 was like a thriller film; build up, conflict, conflict, climax where all seems lost, and resolution. Except it was a very real experience for me, and in secret I nearly gave up on life.

The return from New Zealand had stripped away that false illusion that everything was fine and dandy. Suddenly I found myself back where I started and demoralized so much that it amplified my need for destructive things.

When you are feeling low and lost, you revisit old haunts that worsen the mindset you were in. Those old bars gave me new blackouts, old hookups were attempted to be rekindled, and old bad habits grew worse. Like a skipping record you keep missing a beat and keep making the same decision that set you back in the first place.

If you pretend too long and swim in a pool of misery with people who try to dunk you under for their amusement, you’ll end up drowning.

After travel came the downfall

Being naked and exposed in the world while exploring my first country ever brought forward the past I never dealt with, and I ended up face down in the mud with a storm I caused ripping apart everything.

But after being at that lowest low where I faced 5 years in jail for drunkenly breaking into a dentist office thinking it was the place I lived in, I realized it was do or die for me.

Time to fucking do it Ryan!” my mind said for the first time like a punch in the face. Alcoholics Anonymous had been a weekly routine at that point. Like father like son, I had ended up in a place I remembered seeing my father as a young boy confess his sins like a church for drunks. It was two months of uncertainty as to my fate and a sudden drive to turn things around that cleared my head.

When the gavil clapped and the judge freed me, I knew I would never waste another moment again.

As 2012 closed, 2013 began with the launch of the blog and a slow road to reclaiming my life. My first article, “Death: My Travel Inspiration” would shape the tone of the blog and my mission to share my stories in hopes it may give someone a little light at the end of their own dark tunnel. And sharing those stories began helping me face what tormented me for all of those years like a counselor never could.

I shared because I didn’t know any of you and I could not yet talk about it in person. And as time went by, I met some of you, and I was surprised to discover I wasn’t afraid that you knew of my past. It was refreshing to be honest, being someone who lived an illusion for so long.

Throughout the year I worked two jobs nearly 80 hours a week to save up money for a new and true adventure. It began in small steps by cutting out the nights of drinking. It then included cutting off dining out and drinking Starbucks except for one cheat day a week. Cutting out those things allowed me to work harder and begin saving money. I set small goals per week to put into the bank instead of a large end goal and it became addicting meeting it.

By the end of the summer, I had saved $8,500 in 6 months even after buying my plane ticket to Thailand and new camera equipment to forward my passion. It felt for the first time like a true self accomplishment. 

For the first time in years I was proud of myself.

Another personal feat conquered

After sharing my personal memoirs with you, and reading your constant responses and support, it drove me to conquer another feat. I gained the courage to confront my brother who had disowned me for wanting to travel. I told him all of the darkness I struggled with since our father had died, and all of the events that had happened, and how I invented a life to show him and the world up.

At the dinner, the conclusions was shocking because confronting him brought us closer than ever. For the first time in my life he told me he was proud of me, and that he was excited for this upcoming trip because he believed I was now in the right mind.

That nearly brought me to tears to hear that from my only direct blood left.

I was in the right mindset for once. I was driven for myself and not to prove others wrong. I was working to further my dream. I had purpose.

2013 ended with me landing on my birthday in Thailand to start a new adventure. 

Though I’ve been bouncing around a lot not knowing where to go yet, I don’t feel lost anymore.

2014 Resolutions

Last year around the time of the New Year, I wrote a very blunt and fierce article called, “Your New Years Resolutions are Rubbish: Here is How to Take on 2013“. I think of yearly resolutions with the same disdain for bucket lists. After the self created mess I overcame at the end of 2012, I was looking to start a fire under everyone’s arse like the one under mine. I wanted to slap people in the face with a call to arms.

In 2014, I am still not making resolutions for the year. Though, daily goals or daily resolutions are something I feel to be the key to succeeding with your aspirations.

Like the way I saved for this trip — I started small and those small goals I accomplished daily snowballed into me traveling abroad.

So, the goals I have set daily for myself which will hopefully lead to a larger accomplishment will be to:

  1. Write daily. Whatever it may be. Memoirs, thoughts, observations, accomplishments, etc
  2. Learn a new Thai word or phrase daily
  3. Work daily on planning a book
  4. Post on the blog more with personal tales, journals, and adventure stories
  5. Begin working out daily and eating healthier again
  6. Hopefully teach English somewhere in Southeast Asia
  7. Work daily on forming and my writing and freelance work into a sustainable income
  8. Wake up and start my day earlier

These smaller steps each day will gradually build up to something bigger, but what that is yet I do not know. I’m just confident that by not setting some large daunting goal, it will be much easier to excel to something bigger in the end.

It’ll be hard and exhausting, but we can do it.

2013: A year of micro-adventures

Most of 2013 was a year in the grind in the United States working my arse off to travel again. And though I didn’t have month long adventures, I did travel more than I had ever in the past (which isn’t saying much.)

But I’ve discovered that these micro-adventures can keep your positive mojo pumping and your adventure spirit hi while you are doing what you must to travel again.


Haiti made an impression on my soul. An acquaintance I barely knew asked me one day if I would like to go to Haiti to film a documentary about a clean energy project he is developing there.

My first thought was, “Hell yes!

Except it was in a week, and I was working two jobs. When all seemed nigh impossible, both jobs gave me time off to go on the amazing trip.

And getting to Haiti shattered all pre-conceived notions about the country. The media and majority of the world had warned me not to go, but after that trip I can say that everyone was wrong. You should never judge a book by its cover, or a country by the media coverage.

After leaving, I knew I would return. I had fallen madly in love with Ayiti, the Pearl of the Caribbean.


Though I lived in the United States, I had never been to the Afro of the Americas — Canada. 

Launching the blog had inspired me to attend the 2013 Travel Blog Expo in Toronto with hopes of meeting all of the stellar bloggers whom inspired me, and of course to learn a few things.

Three other bloggers and friends that I had never met were planning a month long road trip from St. John’s Newfoundland to Toronto Ontario, and were looking for a fourth member. There was no way I would miss that!

Zak of Spark Punk, Candice of Candice Does The World, Seattle of Seattle’s Travels and myself made up team Geogams.

 What insured was a wild and zany road trip throughout parts of Canada most Canadians don’t even explore! From snowstorms that nearly killed us, to seeing my first fiord, and every gnarly adventure in between, we made it to TBEX in once piece somehow.

And for TBEX? Well, what happens when you put 1,300 travel blogger in one place who barely ever get to hang out? Shenanigans to say the least…

Call to Arms: Onward to 2014

This year has had so many ups and such far downs as does everyone in life. No matter the magnitude of problems, stress, heartbreak, doubt, pain, loss, or just plain bad days — we all go through the gauntlet of life. 

One persons struggle in life to live the way they deserve should never be measured easier or harder — we all go through something. The difference is we can all offer some sort of life preserver to keep someone afloat, we can pull them upright so they can keep moving forward, and we can be by their side giving them confidence and shouting “you can fucking do it!” Because in turn, they will back when you are down. 

We can all be one wicked army of people choosing to live a gnarly life — one not restricted by the confines of societies requirements and rules, but a life each person deserves to have. I believe we weren’t formed of this universe to be used as autonomous robots of production and consumption. We are here to love, create, explore, help others, better the earth, and actually live. 

2014 is your year, but don’t make resolutions to create immense obstacles for yourself. 

Use 2014 to start daily goals that are going to lead you to your dream. Step by step, small or large, you will get there if you want it. 

You’ve gotta’ want it bad though my friends. 

Real bad. 

Nobody on this planet can measure effort, the only thing that can be measured is how many times others have given up. 

So don’t give up.

Fiercely go forth conquering every obstacle in your way through the sweat, tears, and bloody hell of it!

Nothing worth doing is easy, but nothing easy is worth doing.

Thank you for being a pillar of strength this year for me as I keep marching toward my dream. I hope this community will evolve into one where we all are supporting and inspiring each other.

Because you inspired me.

Much love my friends, and here’s to us, the Live Gnarly Army, and here’s to doing great things in 2014!

How was your 2013? What are your daily goals and aspirations for 2014? 


  1. Noor - Desert to Jungle

    2013 was the year I moved to Thailand to live. I left Dubai, which I loved and didn’t want to leave, and moved to Chiang Mai. I love living in CM, life here is good but I’ve not done enough of the sort of self-development stuff I wanted to do. So my plan for 2014 is to do more work on myself, for example, by being consistent in my meditation. As a kick start I’m going to spend two weeks at a wonderful temple where I’ve stayed twice before. I can’t wait – I’m just worried about freezing my ass off in the mornings!

    1. Author

      This all sounds spectacular Noor! Great mentality to kick start the new year and it seems like this year should be a big period of self growth.

  2. Pingback: Backpacks and Bunkbeds 10 epic travel blogs I shall be reading in 2014 » Backpacks and Bunkbeds

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